A painting by the acclaimed Irish artist Gerard Dillon ignited a bidding war in a sale at The Canterbury Auction Galleries with 11 telephone bidders and several others bidding online sending the price to £13,000, more than three times expectations.

 ‘Couple from Inishmaan’, an oil on canvas showing a young man and woman standing on a quay, 14 x 10.5ins, had been discovered when the auctioneers removed around 70 paintings from a small bedroom in Wadhurst.


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 They were from the studio collection of Margaret Barnard, an acclaimed landscape artist and poster designer for London Transport, and her husband, Robert Mackechnie, which had been consigned to the sale by her great nephew.

“Most of the paintings were by Margaret Barnard or her husband, but a few others were by other artists, but a work by Gerard Dillon was the last thing I expected to find,” said auctioneer Cliona Kilroy. “The fact that it was by an Irish artist was an added bonus for me”. 

“There was a label on the back of the picture handwritten by the grandmother of the vendor, who was Margaret Barnard’s nephew, obviously intending him to have it on the grandmother’s passing. However, he believes he probably dismissed the painting and never took it. His mother retained it until her recent death, which prompted him to sell the whole collection.”  

It had been purchased by the grandmother from exhibition of living Irish artists at the Leicester Galleries in Leicester Square, in October 1946 and was bought this time by a London bidder. 

Gerard Dillon (1916-1971) started work as an apprentice painter and decorator aged 14, but after attending night classes at Belfast College of Art, he moved to London aged 18, returning to Belfast at the start of the Second World War. He was a member of the Dublin Painters’ Group and lectured at the National College of Art and Design and the Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery of Modern Art in Dublin. 

Margaret Barnard (1900-1992) studied at the Grosvenor School of Modern Art under the influential artist and teacher Claude Flight, a pioneer of linocut art, so it was no surprise that heading works by her in the collection was a linocut of men rowing a boat, titled “The Crew”, which showed clearly Flight’s influence. It sold to the same London buyer for £4,000.


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It pays to ensure you have enough room to hang a painting before buying it, but sometimes, it can pay when a mistake is made. A hunting scene by Francis Sartorius (1734-1804) was purchased in June last year but its new owner found he was unable to accommodate it, prompting a quick re-sale … and a profit. It sold to a local private buyer for £8,000 against an estimate of £2,000-3,000.



The same estimate was given to watercolour by A.R.R. Rowland Hilder (1905-1993) showing a view of the centre of Faversham looking towards the Town Hall and market. It was taken by its owners to one of the saleroom’s free Friday valuation mornings and purchased in the sale by a local private buyer for £5,200.



Highlight of the ceramics section was a rare and apparently unrecorded model of a majolica tabby cat by Brown-Westhead Moore and Co., whose Cauldon works were in Hanley, Staffordshire. Sporting a blue ribbon and sitting on books, one inscribed humorously on the spine ‘All About Mice’, the other initialled ‘MM’ and dated 1877. The following year the company exhibited a number of full sized models of animals at the Paris Exhibition. It sold to a South Yorkshire telephone bidder, emerging as joint top lot for £13,000.


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Perhaps it was buyers readying themselves for Valentine’s Day, but good quality jewellery was a strong element among results. Two diamond solitaire rings, the 1.6 and 1.4 carat stones set in white gold were the top lots, selling for £3,500 and £3,300 respectively, each being secured by the London trade.





An elegant late Victorian gold and silver mounted pearl and diamond floral head pattern pendant, the centre set with a cultured pearl within a scrolling border set with 44 old cut diamonds (estimated weight 4.5ct), and suspending a bouton pearl on a fine chain necklet sold for £2,000, as did a late Victorian single graduated strand of amber beads, together with a two strand amber bracelet with silver and marquisite clasp and a pair of amber pendant drop earrings for pierced ears. The latter was another Friday valuation day discovery, which sold strongly to an American internet bidder.




Evidence of the growing market for 1960s jewellery saw a local private buyer add a Grima 18ct adiamond ring to her collection to compliment her Grima engagement ring. A central brilliant cut diamond of approximately .50ct, was set within a scrolling border of 16 rose cut diamonds, which sold for a mid-estimate £2,600, while another local buyer paid an above estimate £2,500 for a lady's stainless steel cased Hermes "H Heure" wristwatch, the rectangular sunburst dial surrounded by a diamond set bezel.




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The Canterbury sales are traditionally a source for fine quality clocks and timepieces, all well researched, the most sought after this time being an early 18th Century ebonised table clock by George Thatcher of Cranbrook (1676-1757).

Bracket clocks by Kent makers from the this period are very rare, only nine known examples being so far recorde and this is the only known example by Thatcher 

Little is known about the early life of this Weald of Kent maker but owing to the similarity between Thatcher’s lantern clocks and a similar example signed by John Kingsnorth who had moved to Tenterden from London after completing his apprenticeship in 1695, Michael Pearson, author of ‘Kent Clocks and Clockmakers, believes it is highly likely that Thatcher was trained by Kingsnorth.

Thatcher and his wife Constant are buried together in St Dunstan's Church, Cranbrook, his will making it clear he had prospered both as a clockmaker and a landowner. His eldest son George was left a house and farm in Frittenden and property in Cranbrook and Hawkhurst. His second son was left another property and farm in Hawkhurst, and his third son Thomas was left a house, farm and land in Bexhill together with  £55. Another property "adjoining to the meeting house" together with his pew in the meeting house was left to this daughter Lydia. This is in addition to financial bequests to his four grandchildren. The final bequest relates to his personal property, including a quantity of silver to his sons and daughters and to the eldest son George "...the clock in the kitchen and my little Spring clock".

The bracket clock had a seven-inch arched brass dial, date aperture and cast gilt brass mask pattern spandrels; an eight-day single train movement with verge escapement and five turned and ringed pillars; engraved back plate and pull repeat on three bells. It was contained in an ebonised case with shaped bell top, moulded edges, and twin fretted panels to each side. Sold by a family prior to moving house, it was purchased by a local private buyer on estimate for £4,000.



An attractively small early 19th century ebonised and brass inlaid ‘four glass’ mantel timepiece by Tupman, Gt. Russell Street, Bloomsbury, from a deceased estate, sold to the Sussex trade for £2,200, a multiple of its estimate, despite being in need of restoration.

The clock was possibly by William Tupman, apprenticed 1806, who was the son of George Tupman of Charles Street and Hanover Square, London, recorded working 1794-1820

Its arched silvered dial engraved with leafage had an eight-day single train chain and fusee movement with plain heavy brass plates and plain turned columns, while the ebonised fruitwood case was architectural in design, the front inlaid with small brass paterae, stringing and scrollwork.



Period walnut furniture was well received, a good George II figured walnut tallboy with brushing slide, original brass handles and a semi-circular recess inlaid with a sunburst on the lower drawer, formerly from Denston Hall, Suffolk selling to a local private buyer for £4,300.



Best performer, however, was an 18th century walnut wing back armchair with out-turned arms, upholstered in old gold brocade, on cabriole front legs with shell carving to the knees and turned H-pattern stretchers. It doubled its guide price to sell to a Bedfordshire bidder for £3,100.



Another feature of the sale was the dispersal of property belonging to the late Clive Marsh, a Kent based avid collector of World War Two militaria, particularly German, on behalf of his executors. Most wanted was a deactivated 1943 German G.P.M.G. (M.G.34) 7.92mm machine gun mounted on tripod dated 1938, fitted with optical sight and anti-aircraft sights. It sold to a Staffordshire buyer for £2,600.



However, the top lot among sporting and antique guns was a good 12 bore side by side shotgun by ‘London best’ maker James Purdey & Sons, built in 1886. The 28ins blued steel barrels had a plain top rib engraved with maker’s name and address, (believed to have been re-barrelled in recent years), bright steel locks also bearing maker’s name and decorated with rose and scroll engraving, and walnut stock and fore end.

Retaining its original manufacturer’s leather motor case and some accessories, it sold for £7,600 to a local farmer for his son’s 21st birthday, rounding off the most successful gun sale to date with 95% of lots sold.


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Entries of good quality fine art, antiques and collectors’ items are now invited for the next two-day sale at The Canterbury Auction Galleries, which is on April 4-5. For further information, please contact the auctioneers, telephone 01227 763337 or general@tcag.com.

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